This is a story i shot a while ago, but always wanted to make a directors cut, if you will. For me, the fun part about shooting a story, is maintaining a sense of narrative throughout, so it feels like your going on a journey. To me that is the most powerful piece of story- telling, and reportage work is nothing if not that. There has to be a sense of experience, just like any good documentary film. And Ultimate Fighting is a great subject for that, whether your a fan or not, you have fighters on the fringe of making a name, and wearing their life and scars literally on their sleeves, for everyone to see. As a photographer, you cannot wish for any more than that.
Above is our recent shoot with former US Open Champion at Congressional, Ken Venturi, who won in 1964, in the current issue of Golf World Magazine. Ken was great to work with, and at 80, was quite happy to work through a number of different shots around his home in Palm Springs. In fact we just basically turned it into a photo studio. But he was cool with that, so i can’t argue. He has a fascinating story of how he fought massive heat stroke to win the title back in ’64. I guess they didn’t have tiny little water bottles in those days! And below current US Open Champion Graeme McDowell. We shot him a few years ago, when he was nothing but a wee lad. Look at him now, all growd up and winning majors!
Last month we did a fun shoot with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on the golf course, obviously! I have to say she was great to work with and quite malleable. I use that expression in terms of how open a subject is to ideas. Sometimes, with high profile people, you just never know. It can go either way. But i think after having been doing this for twenty years or so, that’s where the experience comes in. Knowing when and how to open your big mouth. This is in itself the art of portrait photography if you ask me. Anyway, the other personally gratifying aspect of this shoot, is that i was in effect backing up a personal photo- hero of mine, none other than the great Walter Iooss jr, who i believe was originally slated for this shoot. It feels great to be in such good company. You can read the full article here: http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/2011-06/condoleeza-rice-interview
I see these guys out here in my neighborhood every weekend without fail, just strutting their stuff. So I had to shoot them sooner or later. How can you not? It’s so cool to watch, and always draws an impromptu crowd. It’s like dancing on bikes (wait, is that the makings of a new reality show i hear you say? Good lord I hope not!). Anyway, there’s something just so poetically beautiful and organic about it. One of my favorite things to shoot is people when there in the zone, that’s why i always love shooting athletes, it’s so easy to latch onto that thing that makes a great picture. These shots and this subject matter kind of reminds me of my ‘sign spinners’ project I did a while back. What’s that you ask…. I’ll show soon.
I’m pleased to announce our first collaboration with an online- only magazine, Wavelines from Nomad Editions, clearly signalling the ipad-ization of the publishing industry. I may be an idealist, but i’m also a pragmatic realist, and the ipad-istic magazine is the future my friends, whether you like it or not. Me, personally, yeah i love print, nothing is better than holding your published work in your hands. But let’s face it, the future is the digital press. To me there’s no question about it, and you just have to run the numbers yourself to figure it out. The other bonus of this project is i got to work with photo- editing rockstar Laurie Kratochvil, who surprised with an out of the blue call while checking into my hotel in New Orleans last week (where ironically enough, i was sans-wifi to view said online magazine).
The only problem with this format is over the past twenty years i’ve painstakingly managed to build an archive of most of the magazines my work has been published in ( the ones i know of at least), but how the heck do you archive a website?
Earlier this year we did a fun shoot with a new upstart in the golfing world, a punky little O.C. skate-dude by the name of Rickie Fowler. Now, any time a magazine spends the time, effort and resourses to focus on a ‘hot, new thing’, then you know they’ve probably got their finger on the pulse enough more than me, to know what they’re actually talking about. But when i met Rickie, i kind of had a feeling this kid’s gonna be something special. Guess what, he was just named PGA Rookie of the Year, and that’s after having been a key player on the US Ryder Cup team this summer! Oh, and by the way, he’s a kick- ass motocross rider too…. and has a bit of that Zac Efron/ Justin Bieber thing going on. Can’t you just hear Nike and MTV swooning?
I was so happy to hear that Graeme McDowell from sunny ‘Norn Irn’ won the US Open this past weekend. It reminded me of a cool shoot I did with him back in 2004 for The Observer Sports Magazine (UK). We spent an afternoon on a Scottsdale, Arizona golf course, just shooting around making pictures, and he was awesome to work with. No publicists, no handlers, just me and him having a laugh. I still can’t play golf though. I guess i never picked up any tips. Anyway, good for you Graeme. I’ve always been keeping an eye on your progress.
A friend recently posted this link on facebook, which lead to an interesting discussion about real vs unreal, as used in the (mainly advertising) media today. Now I’m told it turns out this is apparently a ‘not- real’ moment, or a created video, made by Gatorade, which has gone viral, which of course was the intention in the first place. But the question is this: At what point do they become in-effective and therefore pointless, and in fact just plain stupid. Now I get that the point is to ‘wow’ us, but when you’ve seen so many just not possible things, it becomes tiresome to me, and therefore probably almost everyone else out there. I mean, now were seeing countless babies breakdancing, day- trading etc etc. I mean, come on! Cheap, tacky, creatively lazy. I think it was effective a few years back, when Nike showed a video of Michael Vick throwing a football beyond the stadium walls. And that worked, because the wow factor had traction. But these days, it’s just so gimmicky and cheap. This is why i honestly believe the need for ‘true’ imagery will always have legs. It’s like this is the current ‘photoshop’ filter du jour, a fad that i hope will soon run it’s life- cycle. Remember a few years back when everyone was producing high contrast, desaturated images? That soon went away. The same will be said for gimmicky, ridiculous, over- exagerated footage. Because at some point, it’s human nature to say ” Ok, that was fun, but show me something i can actually connect with.”
I heard today that Lorena Ochoa, the world’s number 1 female golfer ( and has been so since the beginning of time, or so it seems), is retiring right in the middle of the season, and right at the top of her game! I had the great pleasure of being asked by Sports Illustrated to travel down to her home town of Guadalajara, Mexico and do a shoot with her for their end of year portfolio. It was a great trip and shoot, and Lorena was so unassuming and sweet to work with. I can only imagine it’s a temporary retirement ( i.e. a break form the game), as she’s been the queen of women’s golf since she was 8!